Chard, or Swiss chard as it’s commonly known, is a descendent of the sea beet and belongs to the chenopod family – which includes beets, spinach and quinoa. The leaves are dark green and the stalks can be red, white, yellow or green. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, fiber and iron. It also contains oxalates which can affect the body’s ability to absorb calcium and potentially lead to the formation of kidney stones in individuals who are prone to developing them.
Leaves should be dark green, with no browning or yellowing, and they should not look wilted. Stalks should be firm and crisp with vivid colors. While available throughout the year, the peak season for chard is June through August.
Don’t wash chard prior to storing it as that encourages spoilage. Store it in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for up to 3-5 days. Leaves can also be blanched and stored in the freezer.
How To Use It
Rinse under cold water and remove any areas of the leaves that are brown or slimy. Cut the leaves from the stems. While most people eat just the leaves, you can also eat the stems, though they can be tough and fibrous. If you want to try the stems, give the white colored ones a try – they tend to be more tender.
Chard is incredibly versatile and is most often eaten sauteed or steamed. It can also be eaten raw (especially young, more tender leaves), though it can be more bitter if not cooked. Leaves can be used in soups and salads and they are thick enough to make a good wrap. Try boiling in a large pot of water for 2-3 minutes – this can help bring out the sweeter taste from the chard as well as decrease the oxalic acid content by as much as 50%. Note: don’t cook chard in an aluminum pot, the oxalates will react with the metal causing your pot to discolor. A nickel-free stainless steel pot is a much better option.